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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The effects of classroom environment on creativity and question asking in grade seven science classes Dahl, Waldemar Werner


Current evaluations in science education research of discovery based science programs give no clear indication of the merit of these new science programs. Getzels and Jackson's studies in creativity suggest that permissive and authoritarian family environments may influence development of creativity and IQ respectively in children. It was reasoned that findings relating family and school environments to creativity could have relevance in science education where discovery based science programs are having a profound effect on altering science classroom environment. It was hypothesized that permissive science classroom environments would produce significantly higher posttest creativity means than the control. Since a current science education goal is to enhance student question asking skill (e.g. Inquiry Training) and since findings indicate question asking styles are related to aptitudes, it is hypothesized that high creative and high permissive groups will have significantly higher factual and yes-no question score means whereas high intelligence and low permissive groups will have significantly higher explanation question score means. Creativity tests used in this study include Guilford's Uses Test and the Question Test from Torrance's Ask-and-Guess Test. The Question Test also yields factual, yes-no, and explanation question scores. To assess classroom environment, the Classroom Environment Scale was developed. Item choices were classified by seven judges into the three environmental categories. The sample consisted of four grade seven classes, three experimental and one control. Experimental groups were taught the ESS unit, Batteries and Bulbs. The experimental groups included a semipermissive group which was taught the unit according to suggestions in the teacher's guide, and the permissive and authoritarian groups which, respectively, had less and more teacher control of classroom environment than the semi-permissive group. Experimental groups were shown to have significantly different classroom environment means in the direction expected. Data for testing hypotheses of this project came from a field experiment and a field study. For the field experiment a before and after design was used, analysis of covariance being employed on the group post creativity means with significant covariates derived from step-down regression analysis of pretest data. All significance levels are at the 5% level. Results of the field experiment indicate that for the more valid creativity test, the Uses Test, the group post creativity means of the permissive and authoritarian groups were significantly larger than the control group post mean. With the Question Test, which lacked discriminant validity in regard to intelligence, only the authoritarian group post creativity mean was significantly larger than the control post mean. For the field study high and low groups were formed using medians of creativity, intelligence and classroom environment as cutoffs, with analysis of variance and the F-test used to detect significant differences in means of question scores or question gains of these high and low groups. When question gain data showed non-normality the Chi-square test was used with significance at 1%. Field study results show that the high creative group had significantly higher mean yes-no and factual question scores than the low creative group, whereas the high intelligence group had a significantly higher mean explanation question score than the low intelligence group. Chi-square analysis revealed significant divergence in factual and explanation question gains for low and high permissive groups. For aptitude-environment interaction low aptitude-low permissive interactions contribute most to divergence of factual question gains and high aptitude-low permissive interactions contribute most to divergence of explanation question gains. Strongest divergences in group question gains came from intelligence environment interaction.

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